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What makes an Email Marketing platform easy to use?

Email Marketing for Small Business'sUsing social media and blogging has become a way of life for many people whether its personal, small business or larger companies, it’s important to choose the right tools to distribute your social media marketing messages.

There are many platforms out there for distributing these social media messages via e-mail marketing, many with great features but many with poor features. In the early days of doing Email Marketing I reviewed many products, the popular ones being Aweber, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, Benchmark Email and IContact are just but a few.

After deciding what was important to me in an Email Marketing platform I chose IContact. The features that most impressed me were easy and obvious navigation of this platform but also the strong ability to manufacture custom HTML and in line CSS templates which can then be manipulated by IContacts WYSIWYG editor.
In 2010 IContact upgraded many features including social media plug-ins, a new message builder interface and today 9th of July 2011 they have just released a whole new fresh look to their interface.
First impressions after logging in were the speed of page loads are considerably faster without the bloated graphical boxes. The navigation is very similar and still very easy to understand with having permanent high level tabs for home, contacts, create, send and track.
Another nice improvement is the fast pull down list in the top right corner for account configuration and management. This new interface offers two click availability to nearly all features from any where in the interface. The body of the home screen has not changed in content and features, just smoother faster load times and cleaner presentation. A good move!
Icontact Review 2011
After initially logging in, the home screen offers an efficient overview of your account including the current subscriber count with details of individual lists, your remaining message count for that month, your image library of which you get 5 MB as standard and a detailed breakdown of your last message sent statistics. Various other modules are shown to do with help functions, IContact community, and general news. The last panel to mention is the Partner Central which offers a great way of tracking your affiliate program with IContact. It’s worth noting that the affiliate program for IContact gives you a 25% monthly commission on all affiliate signups, great for building passive income.
Icontact Email Marketing
The contact page is the place to manage and create all your lists, offering various methods of uploading, one at a time, copy and paste, upload excel or csv files and the sign-up forms for embedding in your website (additional IContact plug-ins and widgets are available for Joomla and WordPress making publishing the sign-up forms easy on these popular CMS platforms). Managing contacts afterwards is easy, with flexible search facilities and contact browser.
Constant Contact
The great benefit of using sign-up forms is the ability to deliver a squeeze page which offers a service or product free for the price of collecting new contacts for your marketing lists and also triggering the autoresponder sequence which I’m sure we are all familiar with. A new additional feature this year is the Facebook Sign-up form feature, allowing a Facebook fan page to have your signup forms so extending your reach for list building.
create email marketing
Creating a new Email is easy with various options for the novice through to expert levels, creating draft messages for use as part of a campaign, autoresponder sequence or surveys. I use both the online IContact editor for creating draft template messages and also I use Dreamweaver to create more custom and complex templates for customers which can then be edited within the IContact WYSIWYG. For those wanting an easy start-up route there are 100’s of templates to choose from all ready built-in to the system for you to use and modify.
The online editors for your email creation are concise and feature rich, with the facilities to manipulate text, paragraphs, tables, image placement and message proofing tools such as spam checker, spell checker and test Email sending.
Send Email newsletters
The sending and scheduling process is straight forward whether sending a single campaign or building autoresponder sequences. All emails can be scheduled for immediate release or scheduled for release in the future using a calendar / time selection panel.
Track email responses
Once released, extensive tracking facilities are available for each Email and autoresponder sequence, giving statistics on open rates, bounce rates, click through rates and unsubscribes. Using these tracking statistics gives great feedback on testing what works and what doesn’t work so improving your deliverability in the future.
Social Media Newsletter
Some of the features introduced earlier this year were based on using social media integration with twitter and Facebook enabling auto publishing to these platforms for you and your customer. Other great additions such as iPhone apps, Android phone apps, Salesforce integration and extensive API programming interface makes this an all round winner.


In all, these changes released today have again proved that IContact are making consistent efforts to improve an already good product. These latest interface changes are going to make navigation and the daily use of this product more efficient and productive. The interface performance is just great and when it comes to support, there is a UK support phone number making it easy to get in touch with IContact. The TopTenREVIEWS website has an interesting review of IContact.
 IContact has various packages to suit needs and experience, starting with the free package which offers up to 500 subscribers with no time limits. For those of with greater needs, packages start from $10 (£6-£7) a month. Sign up today for a free or trial account to find out how good this product has really become. And don’t forget the many rewards for starting an affiliate program with 25% commission rates.

Do you know you are living in a Social Media Revolution?

You are living in a Social Media Revolution!
Where’s the proof?       

revolutionMany statistics are been observed and collected, but not until Erik Qualman of Socialnomics produced a video and concentrated statistics, was the true impact of Social Media realised, both personal and in business. I have re-posted his work here just so you can get a sense of how important we all understand the power of what is happening.

When you look at the numbers from just the top 3 social media entities, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, you get a num feeling that the world has changed in the blink of an eye. 

Long gone are the days of paid printed advertising being the most powerful method of reaching new and existing customers. Do you remember getting quotes from your local newspaper for an advert and getting a price that reflects their potential circulation, maybe 55,000 for the local informer of which they were very proud of. Now stack that against the numbers you see in this video below, makes interesting viewing!

You are in a Social Media Revolution, but are you taking advantage of it to help your business! Most are not, yet, but as time progress’s that will change. 

Don’t get left behind, understand, plan and get your Social Media business strategy moving.

By Erik Qualman

It’s amazing how fast the world of social media moves!  As many of the statistics from the original Social Media video have changed, I took a moment to refresh the video with a few new statistics and graphics.  Thanks to all of you for your support in making the first Social Media Revolution and Social Media ROI videos such a huge success and I hope that you enjoy this refresh!

Stats from Video (sources listed below by corresponding #)

  1. Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30-years-old
  2. 96% of them have joined a social network
  3. Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S.
  4. Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
  5. 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media
  6. Years to Reach 50 millions Users:  Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)…
  7. Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year
  8. iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.
  9. We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.”
  10. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest ahead of the United States and only behind China and India
  11. Yet, QQ and Renren dominate China
  12. 2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction
  13. 80% of companies use social media for recruitment; % of these using LinkedIn 95%
  14. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females
  15. Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres (combined) have more Twitter followers than the  populations of Ireland, Norway, or Panama.  Note I have adjusted the language here after someone pointed out the way it is phrased in the video was difficult to determine if it was combined.
  16. 50% of the mobile Internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook…people update anywhere, anytime…imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?
  17. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé – some universities have stopped distributing e-mail accounts
  18. Instead they are distributing: eReaders + iPads + Tablets
  19. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook…
  20. The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube
  21. While you watch this 100+ hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube
  22. Wikipedia has over 15 million articles…studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica…78% of these articles are non-English
  23. There are over 200,000,000 Blogs
  24. Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, word of mouth now becomes world of mouth
  25. If you were paid a $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia you would earn $1,712.32 per hour
  26. 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content
  27. 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands
  28. Do you like what they are saying about your brand? You better.
  29. People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services  than how Google ranks them
  30. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
  31. Only 14% trust advertisements
  32. Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI
  33. 90% of people that can TiVo ads do
  34. Kindle eBooks Outsold Paper Books on Christmas
  35. 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation
  36. 60 millions status updates happen on Facebook daily
  37. We no longer search for the news, the news finds us.
  38. We will non longer search for products and services, they will find us via social media
  39. Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate
  40. Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like Mad Men Listening first, selling second
  41. The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years
  42. Bonus: comScore indicates that Russia has the most engage social media audience with visitors spending 6.6 hours and viewing 1,307 pages per visitor per month – Vkontakte.ru is the #1 social network

Social Media Statistics:

Below are the sources I used to compile this video.  Keep your feedback/questions/challenges coming as it will collectively make the next video better – be social.

A huge thanks to all below:

  1. Source: http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/brokerhttp://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpopinfo.php  [roughly 52% based on table data] | 2010 U.S. 310,232,863 | 2010 World 6,814,609,654 | 30 and under: 3,548,760,268 / 6,814,609,654 = 52%http://sasweb.ssd.census.gov/idb/worldpopinfo.html
  2. Source: Grunwald Associates National Study – Trendsspotting Blog | Millenials Conference
  3. Source: Hitwise Intelligence Heather Doughertyhttp://weblogs.hitwise.com/heather-dougherty/2010/03/facebook_reaches_top_ranking_i.html
  4. Source: Huffington Post
  5. Source: McKinsey Study also posted by David Dalka
  6. Source: First Stats: United Nations Cyberschoolbus Document
  7. Source for Facebook Stat: Facebook Timelinehttp://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?timeline Feb 2009 175 million users – Feb 2010 400 users:
  8. iPhone Stat: Apple
  9. Personal Quote
  10. Source: Facebook and world population data
  11. Source: TechCrunch
  12. Source: U.S. Department of Education Study
  13. Source: Jobvite Social Recruitment Survey
  14. Source: Inside Facebook Blog
  15. Source: Twitter & World Population Data [Pulled 4/11: Kutcher & Spears 4,743,902 and 4,689,808 = 9,433,710] – note it’s not the combined populations of the countries listed
  16. Source: The Guardianhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/feb/08/facebook-rise-mobile-web-use
  17. Source: Metro Commuter Newspaper
  18. Source: USA Today: Should Colleges Start Giving iPads to Students?http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-04-05-IHE-colleges-give-iPads-to-students05_N.htm
  19. Opinion, not a statistic
  20. Source: TGDaily
  21. Source:  Mashable by Ben Parr
  22. Source: www.wikipedia.org – calculated based on # articles per language category;Colorado State University Wikipedia Accuracy Study; open debate and of course very biased information is also found on this Wikipedia Accuracy page.
  23. Source: China Internet Information CenterTechnoratiWikipedia
  24. Opinion, not a statistic
  25. Source: ClickZ Stats SES Magazine June 8 page 24-25 Chris Aarons, Andru Edwards, Xavier Lanier Turning Blogs and user-Generated Content Into Search Engine Results
  26. Calculated based of Wikipedia article data found at www.wikipedia.org
  27. Source:  TechCrunchThis says 4 weeks so I may have been a little off here as my source at Facebook had said 2 weeks adjusted above
  28. Source: Marketing Vox and Nielsen BuzzMetrics SES Magazine June 8 page 24-25 Chris Aarons, Andru Edwards, Xavier Lanier Turning Blogs and user-Generated Content Into Search Engine Results
  29. Opinion, not a statistic
  30. Source: July 2009 Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey (actually 90% now – updated above but video still shows 78%)
  31. Source: “Marketing to the Social Web,” Larry Weber, Wiley Publishing  2007
  32. Source: “Marketing to the Social Web,” Larry Weber, Wiley Publishing  2007
  33. Source: Starcom USA-TiVo
  34. Source: Mashable
  35. Source: Solutions Research Group
  36. Source: Facebook Stats
  37. Opinion, not a statistic
  38. Opinion, not a statistic
  39. Opinion, not a statistic
  40. Opinion, not a statistic
  41. Opinion, not a statistic
  42. comScore
  43. Music in video provided by Fatboy Slim “Right Here, Right Now” (1999) – if you like it buy the single